Instructional Strategies: Self-Esteem

How can a teacher foster student self-esteem?

As educator’s we want our student to show growth in our content areas, and as students and people. Teachers have a direct effect on student’s growth as a person, their self-esteem, and can help or hinder them. In order to directly effect and promote self-esteem, one must first understand what that is. Self-esteem as defined by the National Association for Self Esteem (NASE) is:

“characterized by tolerance and respect for others, individuals who accept responsibility for their actions, have integrity, take pride in their accomplishments, who are self-motivated, willing to take risks, capable of handling criticism, loving and lovable, seek the challenge and stimulation of worthwhile and demanding goals, and take command and control of their lives.” (Reasoner 2010)

Teaching is not entirely content, it’s about learning and how to teach students to learn. Learning is what as modeled, and the environment created reinforces that when students want to be there. A positive, welcoming environment is essential in developing a student’s knowledge in your content area, but more importantly growth in self-esteem.

The teacher evaluation process (TPEP), whether evaluated using Marzano or Danielson, they clearly communicate the importance of the classroom environment. Since I am evaluated on and am familiar with Danielson, my experience is with Domain 2: Classroom environment. It’s the student relationships and how they relate to the learning environment. An environment of respect and rapport, between teacher and student and student to student are essential in an environment where all students feel they can learn and is directly related to growth in their self-esteem. In Teacher Effects Research on Student Self-Concept, Carl Rogers states “when their teacher relates to them in a person-to-person manner, good things happen”, learning happens.

Classroom’s that endure as high achieving behave in this way, students feel a genuine caring, being valued as people. They prepare for intellectual risks because it is a safe environment in which to participate, there is no ridicule or negative effects, but that of encouragement for their efforts.

I have had student’s enter my room with “blocks to learning” (Joyce, 2015, p.316), and it’s the learning environment that supports students in knowing that they can be successful. I have a large banner above my board, it reads “learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable”. Although a variation of several different quotes, my students hear its origin is that of the US Navy Seals. We are reminded through the year that true learning is being on that edge and that it is that challenge that makes the success especially worthwhile.


Accepting that the uncomfortable feeling is an opportunity to learn, one that is achievable and directly related to the social climate of the classroom. To some students it is a different way to interact and learn, but the “light bulb” moment, the moment when you see on their faces that they understood, is rewarding. As with Rodger’s findings “it was possible to conclude that, in general, positive human relations are related to positive human behaviors”.

Joyce, Bruce R.; Weil, Marsha; Calhoun, Emily (2014-06-05). Models of Teaching (9th Edition). Pearson.

Ranjit Singh Malhi, Ph.D. (2010). Empowering Cycle of High Self-Esteem [Image]. Retrieved from

Reasoner, R. (2010). NASE – National Association for Self Esteem: What is Self-Esteem?. Retrieved from

Rogers, C. (n.d.). Teacher effects research on student self concept. Handout from EDU 6526, Seattle Pacific University, May 22, 2015.

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